In this brief article we will answer the question, “Are peppers fruits?” We will also explain why peppers are classified as vegetables in the culinary world. We will further discuss what peppers are and their health benefits.
Are peppers fruits?
Yes, peppers are botanically fruits. Botanically speaking, a fruit is a seed bearing product that comes from the ovary of a flowering plant. Therefore a botanical fruit should have atleast a seed that grows from the flower of the plant.
If you take a closer look at the above botanical definition, peppers fit perfectly as fruits as they do have seeds in the middle and also grow from the flowers of the pepper plant.
However in a culinary sense, peppers are a vegetable. Botanically, vegetables do not have a general term and are usually defined as edible parts of the plant, stems, leaves and also roots. Let’s take a look at why peppers are referred to as veggies from a culinary point of view.
Why are peppers classified as vegetables in the culinary world?
People in the culinary world such as chefs, nutritionists tend to use the culinary classification system that is usually different as it bases classification depending on the way plants are used and their flavor profiles.
In the culinary world, vegetables taste bland, have a tougher texture and are usually cooked in dishes such as soups, stir fries and stews. On the other hand, in the culinary world fruits have a softer texture, are either sweet or tart and are usually consumed raw or used in desserts and jams.
Looking at the culinary classification system, you will see that peppers are used in savory dishes such as stews and fajitas which is why they are classified as vegetables in the culinary world.
What exactly are peppers?
Peppers comprise a variety of species which all come from the pepper family called Piperaceae. The Piperaceae family comprises about 3,600 accepted species in 5 different genera. They are native to Mexico and the larger part are from 2 genera which are the Piper which has about 2,171 species and the Peperomia which has about 1,371 species.
The most popular species, the Piper nigrum, gives out the peppercorns which can be used as spices together with the black pepper. The Peperomia which is the other main species is known for producing the chili peppers which are native to Mexico.
These are famous in many cuisines globally as a heat adding spice to many dishes. The compounds in the chili peppers which give them the heat intensity when consumed or applied topically are known as capsaicin as well as other related compounds called capsaicinoids.
What are the health benefits of peppers?
They can lower reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration
Peppers contain 2 very important carotenoids which are important for good vision which are lutein and zeaxanthin. When you consume foods that are high in the 2 of them you can improve your eye health.
They help the eye health by protecting the retina from oxidative damage. The red peppers are particularly rich in the 2 carotenoids as well as other beneficial nutrients in the eye such as Vitamin C.
Studies have shown that consumption of foods rich in carotenoids, especially lutein and zeaxanthin can drastically reduce the risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration.
They can help protect against certain chronic diseases
Peppers such as Bell peppers are high in antioxidants which have been widely studied and found to help boost good health and also protect against certain conditions such as cancer and heart disease.
Peppers are rich in antioxidants such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Beta-carotene. They also have high levels of polyphenols such as quercetin, lutein and capsanthin. Capsanthin is found abundantly in ripe red peppers.
Due to their high levels of antioxidants, peppers have anti-inflammatory properties and can lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and various types of cancers.
They can lower the development of anemia
Anemia is a condition most common in females of reproductive age whereby there is a lack of sufficient red blood cells to transport oxygen. One of the major causes of this is a lack of iron. Bell peppers have sufficient amounts of iron.
Bell peppers also have Vitamin B6 which is used in the making of hemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells which is used in the transportation of oxygen throughout the body.
In this brief article we have answered the question, “Are peppers fruits?” We have also explained why peppers are classified as vegetables in the culinary world. We have further discussed what peppers are and their health benefits.